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09/11/2013

New cellphone concept lets you swap out, customize components

PhoneblokSick of having to get a new phone when just the motherboard blows? Or perhaps you just need a new screen after the device tumbled down to the ground?

With desktop Pcs you could easily swap out the part that was broken, such as the hard drive or the processor. But with smartphones (and tablets too), that really isn't an option.

But a designer from Holland is trying to change that, with this new concept that would have us buying modular Lego-like cellphones.

And the idea is brilliant.

Phonebloks is a concept by a Dutch designer that splits up all the parts of your phone into blocks that can be easily swapped out whenever the need arises.

The idea also means you can pick and choose which blocks are part of your phone.

So, if you like taking great photos, you would buy the best camera module out there, and perhaps buy a less expensive processor. Or, if you like to keep lots of music on your phone, you could buy a big memory module and skimp on the camera.

And all of the different blocks connect together through a central board, held together with only two screws. Sounds super simple.

The concept is almost like piecing together different chunks of furniture at Ikea. A whole set can belong to the Besta collection and work together, but you can choose between the frosted glass doors or beech veneer.

But one of the main ideas and benefits of the Phonebloks concept is that it should cut down on waste. So rather than throwing out your phone after a drunken night of partying results in a smashed screen, just change the part that needs replacement.

We won't be seeing the do-it-yourself iPhone anytime soon. Major electronics companies need to get on board, agree on a standard, and then build the parts that can all work together.

Most importantly, however, they're going to need people who'll actually want to make and use smartphones built together in blocks.

To build support, creator Dave Hakkens started a campaign on crowdsourcing service Thunderclap – and he seems to be 80 per cent toward his goal of supporters with about a month to go.

Would you get a phone that you can make (or have someone make) with custom components?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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